Yesterday’s Word.

January 7, 2007

well, you can’t blame a guy for falling a little behind. anyway today’s word (and special bonus word) comes to us from across the pond, where it is apparantly quite common.

stroppy: Bad-tempered, rebellious, awkward, obstreperous, unruly.

AHD lists the word as Chiefly British, while the OED labels it colloq. Let this be a reminder to Americans that the OED is not exactly our dictionary. Although it may have something to do with my provincial uprising, I can’t remember ever hearing the word stroppy in my life. Supposedly, it comes from  OBSTREPEROUS which comes from the Latin  obstrepere to make a noise against. So, to be rebellious or bad-tempered is really to be noisy.

Not the most entertaining word of the day, I know. But it’s late, and I’m really just posting to make sure I don’t fall out of it. Hopefully the special bonus word will make up for it.

Volver: spanish for return

Volver is related to the French revenir which “enters” the English language as “revene.” “Revene,” however, is never used. The OED entry for Revene lists no real quotes. They simply cite someone else’s definition of the word (which is, to return or come back). In English, the revenir root most frequently occurs in the word “revenant,” or ghost. a revenant is one who has returned. Interestingly enough, even though revene never seems to have been used in English, it’s citation is about two hundred years earlier than the first reference for revenant.

But, for those who like their linguistic connections a little tighter, volver also gives birth to the English verb “volve.” Volve is completely obsolete. as a transitive verb, “Volve” is to turn over, as in the pages of a book, or consider, as in to turn over in one’s mind. Its intransitive meaning is just as interesting. Listed as nonce-use (which I’m pretty sure means it was neologized), the intrans. form of the word means: To turn over, to roll. So, I suppose, one volves down a hill.

Volve does have a current form in English. Its present participle “Volvent,” means Turning round.

Question for a linguist: do many obsolete indicative verbs survive in their participle form?

Hope the bonus obsolete verb made up for stroppy.

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